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Friday, June 8

Depth Chart: Biggest first-round busts

Editor's note: has been compiling lists of the best or worst things about the NFL. This week, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. lists the top-10 first-round busts.

NFL teams count on first-round picks to at least be a solid starter. So a first-round bust should be defined as a player who didn't develop as a quality starter. A total bust is someone who was less than an adequate starter. In many cases, the players on my list were much worse than that; some didn't do anything at the pro level. Here are my top-10 first-round busts (listed in alphabetical order):

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Mel Kiper Jr.'s biggest first-round busts
  Ki-Jana Carter, RB, Penn State (1st overall, Bengals, 1995)
He wasn't able to get it done or show the skill level to be an effective NFL running back. His knee injury hurt him right away too.
New Orleans Saints   Russell Erxleben, K/P, Texas (11th overall, Saints, 1979)
He didn't transition from being a great college kicker to the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs   Brian Jozwiak, OT, West Virginia (7th overall, Chiefs, 1986)
He didn't seem to have the ability to handle quick outside pass rushers. He was more of a run blocker in college.
  Tony Mandarich, OT, Michigan State (2nd overall, Packers, 1989)
He was a dominator in college who struggled mightily in NFL. He didn't transition well. He was drafted ahead of Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Deion Sanders.
  Lawrence Phillips, RB, Nebraska (6th overall, Rams, 1996)
He was a product of Nebraska's offense, an I-back who had time to run downhill behind a great offensive line. In the NFL, he played too upright and couldn't make people miss. Plus, he had off-the-field problems. He was drafted ahead of Eddie George.
Colts   Art Schlichter, QB, Ohio State (4th overall, Colts, 1982)
He had off-the-field problems with gambling and did nothing with the Colts. He was a great talent who never materialized because he wasn't focused.
  Heath Shuler, QB, Tennessee (3rd overall, Redskins, 1994)
He was a holdout, and not being in camp hurt him immediately. Then Gus Frerotte, another '94 draft pick, seized control of the team. Shuler never caught up. He also wasn't the pure passer he needed to be.
  Kelly Stouffer, QB, Colorado State (6th overall, Cardinals, 1987)
He had a solid career in college, but he wasn't projected to go high. He was a major reach; I thought he was a second- or third-round pick.
  Blair Thomas, RB, Penn State (2nd overall, Jets, 1990)
The history of Penn State running backs hasn't been great. He never showed the burst or creativity as a runner and the great package of skills needed in the NFL.
  Andre Ware, QB, Houston (7th overall, Lions, 1990)
Another QB hurt by a holdout. He was drafted to run Wayne Fontes' run-and-shoot offense. Rodney Peete ended up settling into the offense instead. Ware had talent, but the team never took to him as a leader.

Dishonorable Mention
Trev Alberts, OLB, Nebraska (6th overall, Colts, 1994)
Anthony Bell, LB, Michigan State (5th overall, Cardinals, 1986)
Todd Blackledge, QB, Penn State (7th overall, Chiefs, 1983)
Bob Buczkowski, DE, Pittsburgh (24th overall, Raiders, 1986)
Rich Campbell, QB, California (6th overall, Packers, 1981)
Tom Cousineau, MLB, Ohio State (1st overall, Bills, 1979)
Mike Croel, LB, Nebraska (4th overall, Broncos, 1991)
Eric Curry, DE, Alabama (6th overall, Buccaneers, 1993)
Jim Druckenmiller, QB, Virginia Tech (26th overall, 49ers, 1997)
Clyde Duncan, WR, Tennessee (17th overall, Cardinals, 1984)
Steve Emtman, DT, Washington (1st overall, Colts, 1992)
Desmond Howard, WR, Michigan (4th overall, Redskins, 1992)
Mike Junkin, LB, Duke (5th overall, Browns, 1987)
Shawn Knight, DT, BYU (11th overall, Saints, 1987)
David Klingler, QB, Houston (6th overall, Bengals, 1992)
Eric Kumerow, OLB, Ohio State (16th overall, Dolphins, 1988)
Ryan Leaf, QB, Washington State (2nd overall, Chargers, 1998)
Tommy Maddox, QB, UCLA (25th overall, Broncos, 1992)
Todd Marinovich, QB, USC (24th overall, Raiders, 1991)
Keith McCants, DE, Alabama (4th overall, Buccaneers, 1990)
Dan McGwire, QB, San Diego State (16th overall, Seahawks, 1991)
Rick Mirer, QB, Notre Dame (2nd overall, Seahawks, 1993)
Bruce Pickens, DB, Nebraska (3rd overall, Falcons, 1991)
Jack Thompson, QB, Washington State (3rd overall, Bengals, 1979)
David Verser, WR, Kansas (10th overall, Bengals, 1981)
Dan Wilkinson, DT, Ohio State (1st overall, Bengals, 1994)

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